More than 40 leaders from New Zealand faith communities have released a joint statement on family violence. It includes that the faith leaders commit their communities to:
- Accept our responsibility to stand up for our children, women and families.
- Refuse to tolerate violence within our families or communities or turn a blind eye to it.
- Strive to provide places of safety and nurture for the children and families of our community.
- Encourage our communities to report family violence, hold perpetrators accountable and provide support for victims.
- Ensure that our staff are trained to respond safely to family violence and are well supported with appropriate policies and resources.
- Partner with community organisations to ensure that families experiencing violence are referred appropriately and we will advocate with government for policies and resources to address family violence.
Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills helped to bring the group together. He said the initiative sent an important message because men often used religious scriptures to justify violence.
“In my practice [as a children’s doctor] I still see parents who use their faith as justification for men, particularly men, hitting their wives and parents hitting their children. They claim it’s sanctioned by their faith and that it’s their right,” he said.
“I know that the faiths don’t condone or believe that, so what the statement does is it draws a line under that. It says in the most public way possible that no faith in New Zealand condones violence towards women or children.